Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Frigate Mess at the Philippine Navy: When Politics Influence Military decisions

Nikko Dizon published a very interesting story behind the ongoing scandal affecting the Philippine Navy today. Let me simplify this story so that you'll understand what really is the core issue here.

The previous Navy leadership procured a frigate from Hyundai, a Korean firm. Stated in the procurement deal with the supplier of this warship is a proviso that states it will be equipped with the top of the line, highly sophisticated weapons system by a French firm called Thales. Thales is a recognised name in the defense weapons systems world. Highly respected, its weapons systems are being used by many countries and are installed in over 170 plus ships around the world.

Now, Hyundai built our frigate with specifications consistent with Thales defense weapons system design, expected since you'll not equip such a warship with machine guns not meant for it. In the military, war equipment are made based on the requirements of the buyer. Requirements are based on a much agreed strategy or principle of war being followed by the buyer.

The Philippines is an archipelagic state. Our borders are porous. Much of our territory is water. Therefore, our defense philosophy is really territorial defense not offensive strategy. We need naval ships. We need frigates which are built to protect our bigger naval assets as well as provide muscle in our anti terror operations by being the most sought after by amphibious expeditionary forces. Since we don't have any submarine, we really on Frigates because they are built to counter submarine activity.

Of course, any frigate will just be a duck sitting on still water if not fully armed and ready for battle. A frigate will just be something like a Hummer being used by a civilian for bragging rights without a sophisticated weapons system. Such a ship should have its matching defense system otherwise, if you install it with one that is not consistent with the design specifications of the ship, you'll be creating something like a banca equipped with a heavy machine gun at its brow. Do that and you are either stupid or downright traitor.

That is treason in the highest order because you are not doing your best equipping your defense systems with the latest and the most combat ready equipment when you are simply capable of doing so. Of course, Thales is higher priced than a Hanwa, but there is simply no comparison between the two. You cannot compare a French wine with someone's moonshine and say that they taste similar. You must be dreaming.

The thing is, if you have that mindset of always scrimping for costs, you are just like your predecessors, someone like an Emilio Abaya of the DOTR who authorised the purchase of MRT trams whose systems are incompatible with your present MRT system.

Treason? Yes. Why? As a government official you are there to provide the public with the best service and in this case, a defense system that your enemy would not mock at and would definitely save lives.

What is simply most disturbing is the fact that the price of this Thales system has been approved already and the funds allocated for its purchase. And yet, you decide against it and choose a Hanwa system which is simply too far off when it comes to reliability and trustworthiness even by your navy officials. Who would want then to ride on a frigate which you know would practically be a sitting such once it hits the water and once it engages an enemy with a more sophisticated defense system.

You would be losing valuable lives. If I'm a Navy official, I would surely not command such a frigate into war. That's suicide.

Would you be proud to tell the Filipino people that the reason you choose a poor defense system is because of costs comparison and not other more substantial reasons? How about saving lives of your men? How about permanently and effectively neutralising an enemy or aggressor?

This is the problem. Some of our political leaders are dipping their fingers on issues which they have practically no knowledge about. They think that purchasing military resources are like buying fish in the market.

Military acquisitions are special because they require thought--something our political leaders sorely lack. When a political leader exercises not brain but plain and simple barrio tic common sense, this is what we get---a country peopled with 101 million defenseless souls and a beautiful country whose natural assets are left to the predatory caprices of foreign demons all because of our Navy's inability to secure our watery territory.

Because of costs considerations, many lives are sure to be lost once this frigate engages another in a brutal naval fight. It's like what our political leaders did during the eighties when we bought those flying coffins dubbed Huey's helicopters.

Now, we have a frigate which is literally a paper banca, ill defended and most probably would be servicing like a muscled luxury yacht all porma no sting.

And a bemedalled, highly respected Navy official got the boot all because he used his brain and stood what he believed would be for the best interests of the institution which he dedicated most of his adult life for. Who among our commodores want our consigns to die aboard a frigate with a poor Hanwa as a defensive weapon? Probably those who kept their silence. Keeping one's silence in a time when one's voice is needed is not just a coward--but a traitor.

This is a very sad commentary in an other wise bright news for our Navy. For all my time, I had high hopes for the Philippine Navy. Among our list of services, the Navy had the least number of scandals compared with the Philippine army. Of course, there are several accusations of the Navy being involved in smuggling and of human rights violations but these are all in the forgettable past. For the past few years, the Navy had improved its image and is the most transparent among our services.

And now this.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

True Revolutionary Change and What Needs to be done: Propelling the Philippines into a super economic giant of the New Era

I am breaking my self-imposed silence because of Mr. Federico Pascual, my good friend and columnist of the Philippine Star. His column today makes an interesting read and needs further elucidation.

First, let me be clear that I am opposing Federalism at this point because the country is not prepared for it. Why do I say so? Three reasons: first, Federalism requires a politically mature society. Sadly, we are not at that level at this time. Our people are still being misled by populism and celebrity-driven politics that prostitute the electoral process altogether. Money drives elections in the Philippines. For sure, those who will be elected in these federal parliaments will always be the propertied and privileged class. Surely, these assemblymen, as what Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez describes them, will pursue their personal interests over the interests of the people. Elections will be manipulated to suit the whims and caprices of these economic elites.

One example would be these powers already entrenched in say, the National Capital Region (NCR) which include as many as 30 families all competing for power. Unless you give Manila the status of a full state or at least Manila as a sub-state, such a scenario where a former president will compete with the Gatchalians of Valenzuela, the Bautistas and Belmontes of Quezon City, the Fernandos of Marikina, the Binays of Makati, the Cayetanos of Taguig, the Gonzaleses and Abalos family of Mandaluyong, the Olivareses-Aguilars of Paranaque will surely happen. Obviously, these heads of cities will gun for the title of first governor of a federated NCR. Imagine the massive conflict Federalism will cause the minute we federate NCR.

Second, let me be clear that the primary reason which drove these so-called Federalists to compaign for the adoption of this system is economic. Their logic is simple--- inequality in the allocation of national funds. Several regions, particularly in Mindanao, remain underdeveloped because most funds are being allocated elsewhere. Federalists think in terms of getting the economic pie for themselves instead of getting just slices of it. They blame government for not allocating funds for infrastructure development of their areas.

Without public funds, these regions will not improve and therefore, most people will be stuck in the rut of poverty, Federalists claim. With Federalism, the state itself will be able to use funds generated by the state itself for its own development.

Let me ask proponents of Federalism---how much percentage of your proposed federal budgets will be contributed to the national union of federates? Is it not that federal states will still allocate a certain percentage of your funds to fuel the unitary Federal government? So, expect minimal change in our situation since federal states will not be able to fully enjoy or utilize their own budgets anyway. Why change the entire governmental structure when the solution is really legislate the way the national government allocate national resources?

True economic development in impoverished regions will happen if local government units will (1) implement a more effective economic planning of local resources; (2) improve tax collections by eliminating red tape and corruption; (3) spur the local economies by identifying areas of specialization (for example, if the economy is agrarian, then, focus on modernizing the agrarian sector by machination, improving infrastructure to enable producers to directly send their produce to market, extend SME loans to those who are engaged in non-agrarian businesses and lift restricted access to land by those who want to be agrarian producers) and liberalize the economic environment by encouraging competition by local and foreign capitalists.

I’ve been closely studying the economic structure of our country. Since we adopted capitalism, economic development depends on so many things but if we simply it, it depends on the flow and movement of capital.  In areas where capital is monopolized, economic development is slow. Whereas, areas where competition is vibrant and abundant, capital flows freely and available to everyone that it spurs economic growth.

Looking at our economic landscape, we see regional economies being monopolized and manipulated by big-time landlords, bureaucrat capitalists and the comprador bourgeoisie. Those who run for elective offices are those who also control the local and regional economies. One example is Batanes. The governor of Batanes is the one who owns the shipping firm that supplies foodstuffs to these islands. Imagine how would you discourage that economic-political family to surrender its privilege now to a Governor of Cagayan-Isabela under a Federated setup? Surely, the Dys will be interested in monopolizing the economy of these Batanes group of Islands.

Look at other regions and you’ll find that most government officials in these regions have interlocking economic interests in their respective areas.

That is my point---Federalism will not break the hold of oligarchs in our regional economies. The fact is, Federalism will further fortify oligarchical rule in these regions because these economic powers will now have the constitutional power to legislate laws that favor their interests over federal welfare. For sure, Federalism will promote extreme policies which will restrict the entry of foreign investors in their respective controlled areas. Under Federalism, members of the parliament of the federal state may enact whatever laws suit them.

Expect Federalism to be used as a weapon of these economic elites against globalization. Instead of seeing a freer, more open regional economies, under Federalism, expect to see Federal states controlled by economic elites in those regions and imposing regulatory policies that restrict the flow of capital into these controlled economies. There will be laws that will serve as barriers to entry of capital. I ask—how then will economic development develop in impoverished areas where competition will not exist? Capitalism thrives in competitive environments. Poverty, inequality and instability follow in economies where concentration of capital is tight.

Imagine Federal states having different utilities providers. Some areas may prefer Globe services while others, Smart. There will be that possibility of areas without these telecomm providers there, maybe local telecom providers created by elites controlling the economy of that federal region. Translate that to electricity and water utilities. It highly possible that all utilities will be controlled by economic elites also managing these federal states.

Such a landscape is a discouragement to foreign investors. Instead of simplifying bureaucratic processes, federalism will complicate foreign investment entry. Some states will probably adopt strict regulatory policies while others will be liberal. Hence, there will surely be an uneven economic development since other states will be developed while others will surely lag behind.

What will definitely happen is increased in-country migration of people, in such catastrophic proportions never before seen in this nation. People from underdeveloped Federal states will surely migrate to more economically developed ones. There will be massive disruption.

Lastly, given all these reasons, there will surely be destabilized states due to incessant politically-driven conflicts among major and minor economic and political powers in these federal regions. One example would be if we implement federated states bringing together rival ethnic groups into one state. Surely, Maranao politicos will compete with Maguindanaoans, and Tausugs will battle for power with Basilan-based tribes and those of Zamboanga.

How about in region 1, which includes Pangasinan? Under a Federated state, the Marcoses will now battle it out with the Singsons, the De Venecias, even with the Ablans and other political dynastic families in those regions. How about in CAR? There are non-Ifugao political families with economic interests already involved in politics there. For sure, economic and political powers will definitely compete for the penultimate title of Federal Governor among families involved in the Leyte-Samar-Cebu areas. And we know what happens during these politically-driven conflicts? Not just political instability but serious economic disruptions as well.


This mode of governance works well in Western and some Asian countries who already underwent a serious civil war and unified themselves later to balance the interests of the landed and propertied with the un-landed and un-propertied. The Philippines is the only country in Asia which skipped this bloody chapter in its history. Instead of just one bloody month of in-fighting, we are undergoing almost a centuries-old pseudo civil war which impedes our growth both as nation and as a economic powerhouse.

Admit it---we are being managed by a bureaucratic government which is being dictated upon by a small group of economic elites who use their stooges in all branches of government to perpetuate their economic statuses and pursue their own fiduciary interests. Government will remain ineffective because it is to the best interests of these economic powers to make the state weak so that it is pliable to their whims and caprices. We will continue to suffer under graft and corruption because it is thru these that elites continue their hold over political power groups. These elites encourage corruption because that is the glue that holds both economic and political powers together in a symbiotic relationship of gains.

Underdevelopment is being encouraged by these economic and political powers because this is being used as a reason for them to use public funds to fund massive build-build-build projects that about 20-40% of allocated funds go to their respective pockets. Review all Public-Private Partnerships and you’ll find that all companies owned by existing elites are taking part in it. These firms are getting wider and bigger slices of the public funds’ pie to fuel their own operations.

We need to break this hold. The only way for us to break this hold of the elites is thru a campaign of re-engineering the superstructure of our state. 

We need a state that we will use as a hammer to break the hold of these parasitic elites in our economic, social and political lives. The state must be the People’s Weapon against oligarchy.

Our Asian neighbors did it thru revolutions, like China, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. Such revolutions are risky and costly since these involved loss of lives. We have been experiencing interracine wars for half a century and surely, we have learned our lessons. We are tired of launching another revolution which results to the same despicable arrangement. What we need is a revolution that is (1) blood-less yet will result to the same things our Asian neighbors achieved.

We know that it is only thru genuine politics that we will be able to change the system.

Re-engineering our superstructure requires three valuable steps: first, we need a strong state managed by people under one strong political party. Eliminate complication. Let us promote a national political party that will serve as the vanguard of this revolution. We need such a party to instill discipline among its members. The party will serve as a bastonero against members who will stray from the agreed collective path of the Party. This party should be patterned after the Katipunan, pre-Aguinaldo. Erring and corrupt members are meted proper penalties, even death.

Under the tutelage of this political party, we then seize political power. We will then lay down a 10-year plan for the nation.

The 10-year plan will involve the following:

1. Review of all agencies of government. We will inform all heads of agencies to vacate their respective posts. We will streamline the bureaucracy. Eliminate agencies with similar functions. We will encourage members of the academe to serve as heads of these agencies. Experts will be asked even forced to accept bureaucratic roles in the government.

2. We will allow the functioning of the courts still under the Supreme Court until such time that it necessitates the total overhaul of the judiciary department. This will also be effected in the legislative departments. All members of Congress will be asked to vacate their posts. A commission will be established to review records of judges and justices. Those who are adjudged incorruptible will be given posts in the judiciary. Corrupt judges and justices will be charged in court or asked not to take part anymore in government. Same goes to members of the House. Politicians charged with corruption or other crimes will be asked not to take part in politics anymore or risk incarceration. Perpetual ban or disqualification in holding public office will be meted against these people.

3. We will gather all economic elites into one group. Those who control utilities will be asked to give these up to government. A Commission will review their records. Those firms which have not been involved in anti-people and anti-Philippine practices will be asked to join a select group of business leaders who will serve as advisors of government. If possible, all capital will be concentrated in the hands of the State. Sympathetic economic powers will then be asked to elect among themselves five to join the National Governing Council.

4. We will gather all military leaders into one advisory Council. Leaders will be asked to join the Party. Those who will refuse membership will not be given serious responsibilities. Five military leaders will then be asked to join the National Governing Council.

5. Religious and non-govenment leaders including members of the academe will also be invited to form a Council. They will elect among themselves at least five members to head a National Council.

6. The head of the Party will serve as temporary head of a National Governing Council. This Council will be composed of 21 members which will emanate from five from the political party, five from the Church and NGO, five from the military and five from the economic council. The NGC will serve as the transitional government for 3 years.

7. The NGC will appoint a Constitutional body to create a new Constitution. This body will be composed of 50 members selected by the NGC and 50 members elected at large by the people. Eighty percent of members of this body will be Partymembers and only 20% non-party members.

8. The NGC will then review the governors and mayors. Those who are not members of the Party will be asked to give up their posts for Party members. Those who elect membership to the Party will be given such right provided that the candidate does not have any criminal case, especially ones involving graft and corruption. Those who are charged with graft and corruption will be asked to vacate his post and will be meted perpetual disqualification for holding public office. Local officials who belonged to the economic elites of the city or province will be politely asked to withdraw from politics. They will be banned perpetually from holding public office until such time that they give up their economic interests.

9. The NGC will create an anti-crime superbody to eliminate all syndicates and monopolies. This body will be given the power to use physical force to destroy syndicates and monopolies.

10. For 3 years, the Constitutional Commission will do its tasks of research and writing the draft of the new Constitution. There will be a full year explaining the new Constitution in a public campaign. Afterwards, a plebiscite will be called. After duly certifying the Constitution, then a democratic elections will then be called.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Social dengue fever

I often hear some friends saying this dengue issue is really very serious because it affects parents and kids. I am a parent, a father of several young kids, but I am not as panicky or as alarmist as the others.  Why? Because I am part of the informed public. We are not stupid. We are not fools.

We are not going around town, telling the public that 70,000 kids are at risk of death because that is simply not true. Worse, these kinds of talk are being peddled by "responsible doctors" ---how responsible they are, you tell me. A non-doctor like me happens to know that mosquitoes carry the virus within them and transfer them when they suck the blood out of a victim. That virus goes to the bloodstream and interacts with the body's cells. Problems begin when a fight happens between the virus and our body's cells.

Being injected with this vaccine will not cause instantaneous death. It is not a lethal shot. However, just one bite of that mosquito bearing dengue virus will, if left untreated.

Why cause public panic? For some, I think, this is a diversion. We are diverting public attention from the monumental ills that beset our country today. While we scare the wits of parents just so they will readily agree on the introduction of a new dengue vaccine from another manufacturer (reportedly being peddled widely by those "experts" or "medical advocates" going around town, spreading the gospel of death instead of hope among the populace thru media channels), we forget that the economy is sliding down the path of perdition, reports of corruption are rising, there are reports of mass demoralisation among government employees, even from the uniformed services, killings of journalists and threats being heaped against some, China is reclaiming land at several islets being claimed by us, more Filipinos packing their bags and travelling abroad not just for work, but for migration, and rising incidences of social and health problems like HIV, drug addiction and others.

We have been afflicted by a severe social dengue fever for so long and the glimmer of hope flickers so slowly and so lately that the light is getting smaller and smaller every, single, day.

We need new social doctors to save us from this malady. The fact is, we are now at 2008 levels. All the gains we so reaped for the past seven years are now erased.

Credit that to our previous masters who are great motivators yet sneaky thieves. Credit that to a moribund political system that creates the very environment that allows these Piped Piper thieves to fool us into believing their gospel only to discover they are just lulling us to sleep and acceptance while they sneak in and rob us of our liberties and rights.

We are feverish with anger because we know we don't deserve such a society. We pay our taxes dutifully. We follow traffic rules every single day. We act as dutiful citizens. Yet, we are being barbarize by people who were not raised properly by their parents or probably taught an evil dogma that it is easy for them to lord it over while we agonise and left with nothing.

These people are the very mosquitoes that cause our social dengue fever. Our social disease is curable and preventable. We only need to clean house and rid ourselves of these pesky little dim wits and throw them out of our midsts.

The Dengue Issue--fuzz over nothing?

A confession---I had a friend who nearly died due to dengue. He survived because people took care of him knowledgeable people who did not panic when  he was wheeled to the emergency room.

That pesky fever which shot his temperature up, is a sign that there is a fight going on between his healthy blood cells and the virus. The virus is virulent and that explains why his blood platelets are losing their numbers. When healthy blood was infused into him, he got healed, because those precious blood contained healthy antibodies which fought a good fight to save him from the clutches of Kamatayan.

You don't die due to dengue. You die of its complications.

When your body temperature heats up, your entire system goes into red alert, full time. Every organ of your body tries its darn best fighting off the invading virus. You lose the fight if your blood count drops, leading to organ failure and possibly cardiac arrest. Hence, it is important that your blood platelet count remains at 10,000 levels. If it drops, problems start.

So, dengue does not instantaneously lead to death. If left untreated, and if blood transfusion does not occur when necessary, the body of course, lacking sufficient antibodies, succumbs to the virus. Though life threatening, dengue is curable and preventable.

Our body is made to resist every single type of biological threat there is. Over time of course, or when we age, we lose precious antibodies. The loss depends on how we abuse our bodies. Having a healthy lifestyle is still the answer to every health concern. When we abuse our bodies, like, we don't have enough sleep, we eat unhealthy foods, we drink and smoke, those antibodies waste away, and bad cells take over. When that happens, expect our vulnerability to disease to hike to lethal levels.

When dengvaxia was announced to the world, millions hailed its discovery. At last, there is this vaccine which can help us fight dengue. It was not an all-cure, end-all vaccine. It was supposed to empower our bodies to fight a more effective fight against the virus. And it aims to increase our resistance to the symptoms of the disease.

Like other vaccines, which is based on human research, it is a continuing study. It may be just 95% effective today but with recent advances in medical science, it is possible to further increase the efficacy of the vaccine to higher levels. What prevents us from discovering a cure depends on the limits of our imagination and innovation. We have the science and the equipment necessary to further increase our knowledge of the virus and eventually, how to fight and kill it, if possible.

Knowing this, I am very curious why personalities which include people whom I respect in the medical profession turn into raving braggarts and become alarmists when the pharma company Sanofi announced their findings.

That firm just wanted to be transparent. They want the world to know that for the past six years, they have been tirelessly working and getting more knowledge-able about dengue. They already know that it is an enigmatic foe to fight with. It is sneaky. It evolves. It mutates. And it hides its best front before us. Like any other epidemiological study, this requires time to further determine how lethal or how susceptible it is to external influences.

Instead of helping government calm the situation, several irresponsible people for reasons probably political or they just want to ride the issue, came bursting into radio and TV booths with their own versions or interpretations of the story. Hay naku.

We must always think of the collective interests first before we brag to the world how brilliant we are.  KSP kasi ilang Pilipino. Nakakahiya. We are the only one in the world going like crazy with an imaginary threat.

Everyone in the world, kalmado, while, here we are fighting, splitting our hairs against a lowly mosquito!

We blame the DOH from implementing that mass vaccination program yet we also lay blame to them when we see hundreds of us falling over due to dengue! When incidences of dengue are going South, we don't praise the DOH. When this update was announced and we just heard the word "severe", we over-react like Kris Aquino does.

Severe for a European means getting a fever, not getting yourself killed. And fever, like what I wrote here, is the usual symptom of having a dengue. Let me state here what the World Health Organisation (WHO) says about dengue and "severe dengue"

Key facts

  • Dengue is a mosquito-borne viral infection.
  • The infection causes flu-like illness, and occasionally develops into a potentially lethal complication called severe dengue.
  • The global incidence of dengue has grown dramatically in recent decades. About half of the world's population is now at risk.
  • Dengue is found in tropical and sub-tropical climates worldwide, mostly in urban and semi-urban areas.
  • Severe dengue is a leading cause of serious illness and death among children in some Asian and Latin American countries.
  • There is no specific treatment for dengue/ severe dengue, but early detection and access to proper medical care lowers fatality rates below 1%.
  • Dengue prevention and control depends on effective vector control measures.
  • A dengue vaccine has been licensed by several National Regulatory Authorities for use in people 9-45 years of age living in endemic settings.

see this link.

WHO says "there is no specific treatment for dengue but early detection and access to proper medical care lowers fatality rates below 1%" and " dengue prevention and control depends on effective vector control measures" which means rapid pests de-infestation.

Again, it's the mosquito stupid, not the vaccine. Even if you inject yourself with hundreds of vials of that vaccine, it will not kill you--the mosquito with the virus will, if you remain untreated. And the chances of you becoming a corpse is 0.0002% due to a second dengue infestation which even is lower than having a liver ailment or a lung disease.

Frankly, the reason why we have a high incidence of dengue here in this country is because most of us do not clean our surroundings. All over, we have thousands of buckets filled with filthy water where mosquitoes larvae thrive.

We have a high incidence of poverty in this country and that explains why many of us can't buy a mosquito repellent. Some of us die of dengue because we don't have enough monies to buy ourselves medicines and excellent hospital care.

And the reason why we are poor or majority are, is because our tax monies are being pocketed by greedy individuals who are experts in thievery. Monies supposed to provide for adequate and comprehensive health care go to contractors and carpet baggers who use not their brains but their tongues to get government projects.

We are blaming a vaccine because we want to hide the real truth---we are complicit of the monumental socio-economic-political distresses that unmake us as a nation. We can't fix this country and we even cause its eventual demise, and since there is simply no social vaccine effective enough to cure our social ills, we point the blame on a vaccine which is proven to be 95% effective against dengue.

The dengue issue, honestly, is not a dengvaxia issue. It is a socio-economic and now, even political issue.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

November 30---a history in the making?

You know why many people are wary about this proposal for a revolutionary government? Not just it is illegal, but if the very same people managing the government right now are the very ones who will manage this revolutionary government, what changes do we now expect to see in the next few months? Nothing!

And if those who oppose them are members of the previous dispensation, the fears of many are legitimate. Do you want the "yellows" to ascend once more to power, those very same people who tricked us in believing that they are upright persons when in truth and in fact, they were the very same ones who robbed us of billions of pesos.

Come November 30, we have to make a decisive choice and we are forced to due to the political circumstances--- are we going to trust the people of Mr. Duterte who are composed of members of the Arroyo administration and his trusted political allies from Davao and elsewhere to make a revolutionary government a legitimate hegemon? Or are we going to support the other side, those outside the kolambo who wants nothing more than enjoy the trappings of power once more?

As they say, we are faced with two untenable options.

Actually, we are not really being pressured to choose between two options only.

We can actually make November 30, a truly wonderful and memorable occasion if we choose to go to the side of Right and create a truly revolutionary interim government, one that would not be peopled by Mr. Duterte's incompetent people and those from the mustard gang.

We can mass up more people to support and create an interim government that will be revolutionary in thought and action, but not populist.

Are we ready to face the inevitable? I pray so.

Sana Maulit Muli (Highest Version) - Regine Velasquez

One of the greatest Filipino songs ever composed. I don't know if you remember the story behind this immortal song. Written by Gary Valenciano, it tells about his love with another woman before Angeli Pangilinan. That other woman was Angeli's sister.

This song sung here by Regine Velasquez-Alcasid is the best version ever. I hope you like it.

Fiipinos strive for the same thing---change

I just can't seem to figure out the logic. Why is Mr. Duterte trying very hard to create a radicalised milieu?

Our economy is supposed to be lifting itself up and up but with all these uncertainties in the air, how do we expect foreign investors to park their monies here?

Mr. Duterte thinks the NPAs and the Communists are pests. And they have inhabited our forests risking their lives for more than fifty years.

Some of us would say, they are destabilisers and others, patriots. Whatever you think they are, one thing is certain--most of these people belong to the most illustrious sub-sector of our society, talented and intelligent young men and women who believe and hope that someday, our society, our country change for the better.

And who doesn't? Every single one of us long for change. Millions of us here and millions of us outside these lands cry for change. We have been enslaved by colonialism for 300 years and more, and we have been in poverty for all our lives. We need a respite to all these sufferings which our mighty God had given us to make us strong and resilient.

By treating the Communists as terrorists, and as enemies of the state, what are we trying to tell the world? That we do not subscribe to their longing for change? What is so different from what they want and what we want?

They think the system is being dominated by oligarchs. Do we not believe the same thing? This system perpetuates a cycle of oppression that puts a great majority of our people at risk by depriving them of economic opportunities, do we not think the same way?

We cannot move forward as a nation if we fight amongst ourselves. There is no single ideology in the world that truly points us to the right direction----only the most scientific of these ideologies.

Hence, no one can claim that he is right.

While the rest of the world worry themselves over where to invest their monies or how to spend their vacations, here we are, fighting amongst ourselves, fellow Filipinos, fighting over power, and the spoils of it.

We are fighting who gets what, and who gets to kiss the ass of whom. And for what?

For the riches a position brings? For the public adulation and Philistinistic welcome we get when we are in power? For the prize of fame, we sacrifice hundreds of lives in order for our smallest contribution to the betterment

Friday, November 24, 2017

RevGov--Masking Underperformance

Based on intel, President Duterte yesterday reportedly gave his "informal" blessing on the event this November 30, birthday of the Supremo, Andres Bonifacio.

Several sources reveal that organizers of the November 30 event assured members of the League of Municipalities that their grassroots organizing had the blessing of the President. The presence of Mr. Duterte yesterday gave enough confidence for those local officials to mobilize their individual local funds for mobilizing people in support of this event.

Why are close associates of the President, hell-bent on pursuing this enterprise which the President himself denied ever suggesting and yet, always mentioning in his speeches, even yesterday?

First assumption: Duterte's under-par performance

Going to his second year in governance, and still, Mr. Duterte has not delivered anything substantial for the country. His supporters are convincing us that there are already changes that are happening one and half years past. And I asked---where?

As far as I'm concerned, I read that the economy is on the verge of overheating, according to the IMF. Local economists say we lag behind our neighbors in terms of foreign and local investments. The local bourse is sometimes, on the rise, but most of the times, down. Many banks have reported that the peso is the least performing currency in ASEAN.

As a father, what I am seeing is a worrisome retail environment. With rising costs of goods and services, many are limiting their times eating out or buying clothes and other amenities. Rising gasoline and diesel prices have likewise, impacted on mobility and therefore, tourism. I am sure that the situation of our local tourism sector remains deplorable not because of our DOT officials who are doing their earnest best promoting our country.

Yes, our food stocks are okey but if you look closely, most goods available in the market are imported stuff from ASEAN countries mostly. Our local manufacturers and entrepreneurs are actively competing with others for a market whose buying capacity is slowly diminishing due to inflation. Supply is present and demand too. Yet, the buying capacity of people have substantially decreased due to inflation and the peso-dollar exchange rate.

There is some promise by next year thru the tax reform bill, yet, this will surely benefit the rich instead of the poor. Yes, local firms are to be taxed more, and the poor are to be taxed less. Yet, those extra pesos will inevitably be spent in the retail sector, and it will not be too much, because prices of goods will likewise shoot up, as the rich manufacturers will just factor their extra taxes in their retail prices. Will that improve the lives of people and allow them more social mobility? I believe things will remain the same except those who are super rich who will benefit more in this than the middle class.

The middle class, then, will be the ones to be severely hit by the expected economic crunch. Are there safety nets for us?

Duterte must learn economic lessons experienced by his predecessors.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Prof. Contreras, Said's Orientalism and Mr. Duterte as "disruptor" of Said's Orientalism: How an Academic Tries to be a PR practitioner

I pity DLSU professor Antonio Contreras. In his attempt at defending Mr. Duterte, Prof. Contreras even went to the extent of dragging the innocent Edward Said into the ridiculous fray. Contreras went to great lengths writing 3/4's of his Manila Times column on Said's "Orientalism", eventually asserting in the end, that Mr. Duterte is a "disruptor" when he allegedly "defied orientalism" by "not seeking affirmation in a world that is structurally hostile to his natural as a President of the Filipinos."

Such bold and sweeping generalizations, Prof. Since when did the world become "structurally hostile" to a "President of the Filipinos" ? Really now, "not seeking affirmation"? If Mr. Duterte did not really intend to "seek" affirmation, then, why sing? 

Wanting to please his master, Contreras tried to defend Mr. Duterte's "singing" before US president Donald Trump as Mr. Duterte's way of interpreting or pursuing Mr. Said's Orientalism see this link.

Prof. Contreras wrote, and I am lifting his own words from the online version to here so that we can discuss this rather at length:

"And while it may appear incongruous to the image of a singing Digong obliging the “command” of Trump, I would argue that Said’s orientalism has created a space upon which people like the President could thrive, not as propagators, but as disruptors of a mindset which Said has clearly criticized."

Okey. What is the proof of this "disruption"?

"President Duterte did not play to the orientalist world view of international diplomacy. He sang not to please Trump, but to show him our nature as a people. He defies orientalism by not seeking affirmation in a world that is structurally hostile to his natural as a President of the Filipinos."

Huh. Can you repeat what you just said, Prof. Contreras?

"But President Duterte has created a new modality for resisting neo-colonialist, orientalist impositions. He doesn’t play by the rules. On matters of foreign policy, he spoke not in servitude, but in defiance. He negotiated from a position of strength. He never demanded equal treatment from the West using their rubrics and lenses. He never sought affirmation from them, knowing fully well that it would simply lead him into buying into the logic of the deeply embedded structures of Western biases."

And what new modality did Mr. Duterte, your principal, created? By singing or obliging to sing, Mr. Duterte did not play by the rules and instead, on matters of foreign policy, he spoke not in servitude, but in defiance? Prof. Contreras, described Mr. Duterte "negotiated from a position of strength"?

Two things: first, Duterte sang in a gala dinner. We can argue ad infinitum that the gala dinner is part of diplomacy and somewhat it is, but you cannot get a firm commitment on some trade or political matter while gorging on pork ribs? Second, Mr. Duterte "negotiated from a position of strength" when he sang? Are you referring to that burst of filthy air from Mr. Duterte's infected lungs when he bruited out the lyrics of that classic Pinoy song?

Really now. Can the good Professor cite some examples of how and where did Mr. Duterte negotiated from strength? Follow and read all these links and tell me, Prof. Contreras when exactly did Mr. Duterte negotiated on a position of strength? 

  • https://www.dailystarph.com/ph-china-to-have-joint-venture-in-west-philippine-sea-duterte/
  • https://www.the-american-interest.com/2017/01/13/as-duterte-bows-to-china-can-japan-make-inroads/
  • http://asianjournal.com/editorial/after-the-un-tribunal-legal-victory-should-the-ph-negotiate-with-china-on-the-west-philippine-sea/
  • Is this negotiating from a position of strength: see https://www.rappler.com/nation/187765-duterte-china-clarify-plans-west-philippine-sea
  • http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/11/12/1758258/duterte-trusts-xi-word-buildup-disputed-sea-nothing
  • http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/11/01/1754586/duterte-hopeful-china-will-stop-expansion-disputed-sea
  • http://verafiles.org/articles/justice-carpio-tells-duterte-bring-un-xis-threat-go-war

There are still so many. Let's admit, shall we these evident truths about Mr. Duterte. Let's be a realist now. Let us not be misled by the contrived image of Mr. Duterte and let's be scholars.

  1. Mr. Duterte, as early as last year, refuses to use the UNCLOS arbitral ruling as a leverage in its negotiations with China.
  2. Mr. Duterte continues to play the war card as his reason for not engaging China as strongly as expected of him inspite of China already telling the world that it will not be using force to assert its West Philippine sea claims. Where did Mr. Duterte get that impression that China will bomb us if we don't agree with the reclamation China is now doing there at the West Philippine sea? 
  3. Mr. Duterte is even proposing a joint exploration of these seas, in direct contravention of the Philippine Constitution
While Prof. Contreras is fond of dragging such an academic luminary like Said into the picture, even Fanon, and trying to convince Said that his boss Mr. Duterte is a disruptor of Orientalism, being a scholar, I think Said would surely disagree with him.

Being an "orientalist" does not mean going from a Western master to an "Oriental" one. One does not become an Orientalist by orienting yourself to the East. There are many who even live in the "east" but does not think as an Orientalist, right, Prof. Said? 

What Said said, which I think Prof. Contreras failed to read in his book, " Orientalism" is that this is not about a framework but a point of reference. It is about reclaiming the identity of those living in the East, in Asia after centuries of bad press from the West. 

Said wrote about cultural criticism--a tendency of someone from a different race interpreting another's culture based on his own cultural biases. And since when did Mr. Duterte interpreted foreign policy based on the Filipino perspective? 

That this is not about where you live in this side of the world, but where you think you are. That we have our own culture, our own mores and our own perspectives of looking into the world. It might not be as great as others, but the more important thing is that it is ours. 

Orientalism is reclaiming an identity lost, reframed and cleaned off its Western star dusts. 

It is about us, Filipinos, telling China, the United States and even our fellow ASEAN countries to scuttle off, those islets are ours by right under the UNCLOS and even by historical right.

It is about us, Filipinos, standing tall and telling Chinese president Xi to make certain his threat of bombing us to smithereens otherwise, just scuttle off to your Forbidden City.

This is not about Mr. Duterte singing to please Mr. Trump or his guest at the gala dinner. That is just a metaphor. 

This is about Mr. Duterte's real voice--his "real" singing which he showed when he was made part of the quartet led by the US in lambasting North Korea and telling it to respect THE UN. 

This is about Mr. Duterte agreeing on a Code of Conduct, which Mr. Duterte even agreed to be "negotiated" by Singapore, when in fact, those islets are ours by legal right as what UNCLS already decided and even by geographical proximity and by historic right. 

This is about Mr. Duterte practically wilting before other ASIAN powers, like a street thug normally does when confronted by rich and more intelligent thugs.

Again, let me ask Prof. Contreras--since when did Mr. Duterte interpreted foreign policy based on Filipino values and philosophical world-view? 

In contrast, Mr. Duterte has always considered China's feelings and China's claims against ours. Had Mr. Duterte been consistent, making reference to Filipino values and worldview every single time he faces the Chinese, the West Philippine sea would have been rightly resolved on our favor. 

Most Filipinos or actually ALL FILIPINOS, probably with the exception of Mr. Duterte, claim those islets as part of Philippine sovereignty and patrimony.

That explains why Mr. Duterte got 16 million votes because of the misperception that he would surely advance Filipino interests the minute he ascends the Presidency. Mr. Duterte even vowed to ride a jet sky and plant the flag of the Philippines only to be seen inside a Chinese ship later on as President. 

Prof. Contreras, please, don't misled us with your pseudo-intellectualism. As what my friend, former Vice President Teofisto Guingona always say whenever we spend those lazy Sunday afternoons in his New Manila house watching NBA games---" You can fool the people sometimes. Yet, you cannot fool the Filipino people all the time." 

2019 Mid-Term Elections--a crucial test for Duterte

Duterte needs the 2019 mid-term elections like another shot of fentanyl in the arm. Surveys indicate a consistent downward trend of his trust and popularity ratings. Of course, in the next few surveys before 2018, several close businessmen will make sure that those ratings do not fall precariously in the fifties or forties levels since that would mean something else.

Actually even before we talk about 2019, we need to survive the challenges of 2018. 2018 is crucial for everybody. One, we will now feel the effects of the mismanagement of the economy. We will feel the economic crunch brought about by this new tax reform bill, the absence of foreign investments, the rising costs of goods and services, the weakness of our monetary and financial systems, the slow down of remittances, the low agricultural performance, the effects of the peso-dollar exchanges in the export industry, the rampant smuggling and graft and corruption of the Duterte administration.

The full effects of the Marawi siege will likewise cause us national misery what with expectations of the full costs of rehabilitation now hovering within the trillion peso mark.

These will all affect us by next year. We will get the full brunt of our decision to trust populist leaders to manage our affairs by 2018. 

The middle class will be hit the hardest by next year, the sector who rants and applaud Mr. Duterte for doing the things he is doing.

Government is bruiting that trillion peso budget and that build, build, build plan to pull us out of these challenges. NEDA chair Pernia is sure that it will.

Of course, he is not telling us, how much interests are attached on those Chinese and Japanese loans and Pernia will never admit how impactful  those EU loans without interests are, now in jeopardy of us losing it due to Duterte's so-called brilliant handling of foreign affairs.

By the way, in my next blog, I shall discuss the so-called gains we got from those ASEAN and APEC summits which we spent close to 2 billion pesos.

Vote for PDP-LABAN Senatorial Candidates especially Roque and Mocha Uson

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez says he needs people at the Senate who will "speed up" the work they are doing at the House (as if the good Speaker is really doing a great job being a puppet of the President, nay, a lap dog)

That's why, he wants Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque and Asst secretary Mocha Uson to win in the 2019 senatorial elections. These two have shown their rabidness as Duterte supporters, hence, they deserve slots at the administration party.

Or, Duterte asked Alvarez to just invite these people for a sun at the Senate to get rid of them at the Executive department. Possible. As they say, if you hate your friend, ask him to run for any elective post.

Other PDP-Laban candidates include Geraldine Roman, a former Bataan Congresswoman, Albee Benitez, the billionaire gamer and Congressman, and of course, Francis Tolentino, the once beleaguered MMDA chairman who ran and lost in the previous election and now preparing for another dig at the Senate.

Less we forget, Cong. Karl Nograles, son of a former Speaker who hails from Davao for that "Southern flavor"

So, whatever happened to Atty. Persida Acosta, the head of the PAO who even formed the Citizens' Guard and reportedly wanting, nay, salivating for an administration blessing to run for the Senate?

How about Justice secretary Vitaliano Aguirre who is reportedly being supported by several grassroots organizations, including STL operators?

Actually, PDP-Laban has a complete slate already, this early in the game.

Rumored to be included already in the PDP-Laban slate are the following names:

1. Senator Cynthia Villar who will run for re-election
2. JV Estrada
3. Grace Poe, who wants to be included but not yet sure if she will since she is criticizing Tugade, a close Duterte associate who now wants to sell MRT, according to some sources.

plus two (2) more national names which escaped my mind.

You know why these people want to run for a national post? Simple.

Benitez wants to really monopolize the online gaming sector in the Philippines. He cannot just do that by wasting his time at the House. He and his backers want a higher post.

Roman is known as a miner's darling. You now know why.

Karl Nograles? What good would another Nograles do for us, except of course, inflate the ego of the father or the entire political clan?

That also explains why Francis Tolentino is running. The Tolentinos is the wealthiest family in Tagaytay and probably in the entire Batangas province. Why run? Let's just say Francis thinks he is God's great gift for the Filipino people.

Expect how he messed up traffic, Francis will do the wrecking even more at the Senate.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Nasty rumors will surely cause Duterte's fall

Mr. Duterte came into power after his minions took part in a myth creation exercise. Now, the very same strategy that enable him to capture the public imagination is now being used to topple Mr. Duterte down from the presidency. 

Surveys upon surveys show the same thing---Duterte's political capital is based on people's perception of him as a politician with an iron-cast will. Whether true or not, talks about Mr. Duterte attained mythical status which cemented a strong positive public perception of him. His entry into national politics was timed as an "answer" to the weakness of the previous dispensation. 

Contributory to the attainment of these myths into the national consciousness were two incidents that show weakness on the part of the previous regime: one, the Mamasapano incident and the last, Pnoy's refusal to address graft and corruption issues that hounded the last years of his administration.

Both incidents were squeezed off and publicity juices dried up. Pinoy was portrayed as a weak military leader. And of course, in the minds of the public, the solution to weakness is "toughness".

What solidified this perception was when talks about corruption bedeviled Pnoy's administration. Early on, drumbeaters of the Pnoy administration anchored or made a centerpiece out of the term "tuwid na daan." At an early stage, people admired the administration because Pnoy did exemplary things which indicated that the administration was for the creation of a just and equitable Philippine society.

However, as talks about corruption began to surface, and Pnoy did absolutely nothing, most Filipinos began hating the administration. People began discovering a deceptive veneer out of the administration. The inconsistency which the Pnoy administration has shown over handling graft and corruption worsened its public image.

What came about was people began losing faith in institutions. Mistrust began to rise. When trust dissipates, relationships suffer. And when relationships falter, people started looking for solutions to what they perceive as problems.

Pnoy's image began to represent weakness in leadership. And what is the solution to weakness in leadership? You guessed right---a tough talking sonafabitch.

Now, after speech after speech establishing himself as a sonafabitch, Duterte now bemoans that he is being demonized and being cast as a villain by millions of people.

He now begins to talk about his "soft side", which his handlers believe is the solution to the losing proposition that is the Duterte brand. Duterte now curses rather infrequently and reads prepared speeches after speeches, all the more, contributing towards his further slide to damnation.

They think that by softening Duterte, that will arrest the sliding perception of him as a leader. They are doing it the wrong way.

Aside from his mythical tough guy image, Mr. Duterte won because people thought he was a sincere leader. Now, because of rumors of his ill gotten wealth, his refusal to sign bank waivers, his soft treatment of his son Paolo's involvement in  drugs and smuggling activities, Mr. Duterte's sincerity is in question.

Why is it that Mr. Duterte indulged in a war against drugs? Rumors had it that Mr. Duterte surely has a personal problem with his sons who are reputedly also involved in drugs. Like another politician mayor whose son was even arrested selling and using drugs while his father mayor paints the walls of poor communities and accuses poor folks of drug pushing and use. Mr. Duterte wants to be seen as an anti-drugs crusader to hide the sad truth--his sons are into it. And people now are beginning to think that even Mr. Duterte is behind the spread and even heads the biggest drug syndicate in the country.

Why is Mr. Duterte soft on proposals to open his bank accounts? People are spreading rumors that Mr. Duterte hides billions of pesos of illicit wealth. Even after Mr. Duterte denied it many times over, even fumed at several instances, people are still unconvinced that he does not stole any single centavo of public funds.

As what this corner predicted a year and a half ago, Mr. Duterte will fall by his own sword. And it is happening now. Let me correct myself---Mr. Duterte is being swallowed by his own mouth. Mr. Duterte is smashing these myths that propelled him to power. He is deconstructing himself.

Bank waiver still pends as far as Duterte is concerned

I think our self-confessed toughie, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte is surely not as tough as what he declares himself to be.

Weeks after Senator Antonio Trillanes IV dared Mr. Duterte to sign a bank waiver allowing the Anti-Money Laundering Council or AMLC to open his bank accounts for scrutiny, Mr. Duterte continues to dodge the issue.

The fact is---Malacanan is silent about the issue. Mr. Duterte tries to bury it by talking about other things. The Communications team has been successful in silencing traditional media. What they don't know is that this thing about the bank waiver is being actively talked about in several circles, and not only from intellectuals--but even in smaller gatherings in the backwaters of Philippine society.

I remember this was exactly one of the reasons why Mr. Marcos got himself booted out of power. Rumors about him, true or not, percolated widely underneath the surface.

These rumors stuck and until now, became part of the public conversation. This is something which the PCOO does not know---how to put an end to nasty rumors.

I am smiling now because the myth about Duterte came precisely thru rumor channels. And these rumors--about his malingering illness, his refusal to sign a bank waiver, his son Paolo's direct involvement in drugs and smuggling, his hidden wealth, his softness when it comes to corruption-- will surely escalate even more as his Communication team refuses to address these issues head-on.

Mr. Duterte came into power after his minions took part in a myth creation exercise. Now, the very same strategy that enable him to capture the public imagination is now being used to topple Mr. Duterte down from the presidency.